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The Loft

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Banish The Winter Blues

To stay warm and cosy, install the right insulation and keep those home fires burning

28.03.2018

Even though Perth has a mild climate, the temperature can definitely drop enough in the middle of the year to make people want to escape the elements to cosy up at home.

There’s no question that having a home-based retreat that feels warm and inviting can make the winter blues fade.

Creating a cosy home is an easy process when you break it down into a series of steps.

First, do an overall assessment of your home. Experts recommend working out the weak spots of the property where heat transference is most likely to occur, because there is no point generating heat inside if it is only going to escape.

A lot of warm air escapes houses via the roof, windows, doors and in some cases the floors.

According to CSR Bradford, insulating ceilings and suspended timber floors should be the logical first step to making a house more comfortable.

“Without insulation, heating a home is like taking a bath without the plug in – you lose a lot of the heat, requiring you to run appliances at a higher setting for longer,” spokesman Ian Seaborn says. “The other areas nominated above can be addressed through the use of heavy curtains with pelmets around windows, weather stripping under doors and putting dampers in chimneys.

“Homes with north-facing windows should try to open the curtains of these and let the sun warm the inside of the home during the day – then close the curtains in the afternoon. Doors and windows should have weather stripping and should not be left open, except as may be required by unflued gas heaters.

“Bradford Gold ceiling batts and Optimo underfloor insulation have millions of tiny air pockets within their construction and it’s this still air that limits the passage of heat. Bradford insulation products are effective at controlling heat transfer via all three main forms – radiant heat, convective heat and conductive heat. Bradford Optimo is also effective at reducing any draughts that may enter through gaps in floorboards.”

According to Jason Windows, the types of windows installed in a home also make a big difference to heat transference.

Marketing manager Kate Woollard says the right window selection can greatly assist temperature management and comfort within the home.

The glare from daylight, either directly through the windows or from reflective outdoor surfaces, is a source of energy entering the home. Another source comes from infrared light which can feel like radiant heat.

She says homes with a lower ambient temperature have not been designed to retain heat for a reasonable length of time. Energy-efficient windows with low-e glass or double glazing can make your home more comfortable by keeping the heat in.

She says low-e glass reduces heat loss or gain through the window, ensuring a comfortable temperature all year round by reflecting the heat back to the source.

“For example in the winter, low-e glass helps to keep your home warm by reflecting the heat back into the room, and in the summer, the heat is reflected back outside helping to keep your home cool,” she says.

Kate says there is a misconception that double glazing is not suited to the Australian climate. “Nothing could be further from the truth,” she says. “Double glazing will help the home maintain an even comfortable temperature regardless of the outside conditions. Double glazing and low-e glass will also help homeowners meet the six-star energy-efficiency rating and add value to their home, while also providing greater security than a single-glazed window.”

Choosing the correct window dressings is the next step in the process. Helen Angelidis from Kresta says that curtains are the best thermal insulator available on the market, with cellular blinds also a good option.

“Decor requirements and budget determines which solution would work best for you. A nice combination of sheers with a block-out lining or the more traditional full drape with sheer behind it works well,” she says.

“With curtains, you have a variety of fabrics and qualities available. Fabrics can be woven, block coated, triple weave, supplied with sewn-on or detachable lining. Each option has a price tag and will provide a varied level of light control and thermal insulation.

“Products like plantation shutters give you the best of both worlds, with a sleek modern look, light control and great thermal insulation.”

Helen says it is a good idea to seek expert advice before making any decisions. “Our consultants are able to provide more than just a quote,” she says. “You have an opportunity to tap into their experience of design and practical application. Often we see something we like online or on social media but fail to consider the practical application within your own setting and our experts can help you work all of that out.”

Once the house is properly insulated and contained, the next step is to make sure it is efficiently heated.

Tim Stokes, of Subiaco Restoration, says modern internal fireplaces add not only warmth but ambience.

“Glass-fronted space heaters look great and their heating capacity and efficiency are unbelievable,” he says.

“Minimalist slimline trims or frameless fires are popular. Gone are the days of bulky trims sitting forward of the wall. Fires such as the Real Flame Landscape and Regency GF1500 are great for  for clients chasing minimalist fires with clean lines.

“This allows feature stone cladding to take centre stage rather than unsightly trims. The other popular trend is double-sided fires acting as room dividers. The Real Flame Simplicity range can be optioned up with a glass back creating a lovely linear-shaped double-sided fire.”

Fireplace Corner’s Leighe Bohmke says the popularity of solid fuel wood-burning fireplaces is being revived.

“We have found homeowners are including fireplaces in their homes more and more,” she says. “Even if the homeowner has ducted heating, very often a fireplace will be purchased as this creates the perfect ambience for family and friends to gather. In the past few years there have been great improvements to efficiency and also a major focus on clean heating.

“Gas is easy and quick – just flick a switch and the unit comes on,” Leighe says. “Also no cleaning is needed. Any Balanced flue gas products are a healthy way of heating. A con would be missing out on the ambience of an open fire.

“Wood heaters are very well priced and heat fantastically. No qualified installer is needed for wood fires.

“The Jetmaster has been around for over 60 years and the design of the box has not changed. Slow combustions are very efficient and very often can burn overnight. Electric fireplaces are extremely easy to install with no flue needed and are perfect for double-storey homes or apartments.”